I seem to turn every holiday we have into a collection of culinary experiences. Our trip to New York, last year, was certainly that. My list of must experiences for our trip was completely food related, with the exception of the Opera and MOMA. After years of waiting, I finally got to go to Dean & Deluca. I got to experience my first Açai bowl, at Juice Generation along with a few other treats. Of course I had my Pastrami and Magnolia bakery experiences too. I over indulged in every food experience I could cram in, both heavenly and sinfully.
Having dined out at a very nice Greek seafood restaurant one evening, I was pleasantly surprised to open up the morning NY Times to find the food supplement featured a review of the restaurant we had just been to. It also had a column on one of my favourite, but elusive vegetables, the cardoon. And making it a keeper, it had a full page dedicated to this very simple, easy to make pizza dough recipe.
The easy preparation is what caught my attention instantly. I didn’t have to spend hours making dough, kneading it or waiting an hour or more for it to rise, no messy counter tops or sticky dough fingers. In fact, other than throwing the ingredients into a food processor, there really wasn’t much effort or mess involved in this recipe at all. All the hard work was done in the food processor and the rest was done in the cling film. (I must caveat – there is the rolling out or stretching of the dough when you are ready to cook it of course.)
Basically, you put the dry ingredients into the food processor, add the wet whilst it is running. It will form into a ball, which you pull out and spread across some cling film (Food wrap / Saran Wrap), then you poke your fingers across the top of it. Cover and leave it for 20 mins. Split the dough into two parts and wrap in cling film, before throwing it into the freezer. That’s it.
When you are ready to use it, you defrost the dough in the fridge during the day, then pull it out on the counter to warm up whilst you gather your toppings, heat the oven and prepare your baking sheet. Roll it out (they suggest stretching it out by hand, but I am not that talented) and place it onto a prepared baking tray/peel, add your toppings and bake in the oven. It is that easy.
I do find it worth the effort of making more than you need and keeping a few batches in the freezer. This way you can do most of your prep weeks in advance. I also find, because I am not as organised as I always hope to be, that I need some for now as well. So I will usually wait until I have plans to serve pizza that night, then I make a double batch that afternoon or evening, keeping one of the bundles out of the freezer. I put it in the fridge until I need it and then allow it to sit on the counter for 20 mins before I roll it out. It has worked really well and gives me an excuse to make it without feeling like I have gone through all this work with nothing to show for the efforts – for that evening anyway.
I do the same for the pizza sauce. The passata comes in such large quantities, that I find it worth making the entire carton/jar and freezing the rest into little pots to pull out with my dough. It really is using the effort of one meal to help you out with several. And the only struggle is finding the matching lids to go with the little pots which are just perfect for one serving.
I really liked how this recipe fit with my ‘Freezer Meal’ planning as well. I could make a couple of batches of the recipe and have four meals sitting in my freezer at the ready. Oh, and did I mention, it costs a fraction to make when compared to a store bought or take away? That can’t be a bad thing. I also find the kids love to help out. So, once I have rolled out the dough, I let them help by putting on the tomato sauce, cheese and any other toppings they might want. Its become such a thing in our home that I get into trouble if I forget to let them help out.
Adapted from the New York Times Food
Makes dough for 2 pizzas, enough to serve 4
- 390g (2 3/4 cups) Strong Bread Flour
- 2 1/2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
- 2 tsp Fine Sea Salt (I use Himalayan Pink)
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 250ml (1 cup) Warm Water
Step 1 – Making the Dough
In your food processor, add the flour, yeast and salt. Give it a quick pulse to blend them together. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil followed by the warm water through the feed tube. The dough will slowly come together as you are adding the liquid and will come to a ball. Allow the ball to go around for a couple of minutes before stopping it. The dough will be soft but still a little sticky.
Lay a sheet of cling film on the counter and remove the dough from the food processor, placing it onto the cling film. Gently form it into a rectangle, measuring 15 x 20 cm. Using all your fingers at once, press them into the dough to leave small indentations over the surface. Then take one side up and lift this over to the middle, leaving a third of the dough uncovered. Press your fingers again into the exposed underside of the dough. Then take the other side (the remaining third) and lift this up and over to the middle as well. Repeating the fingers pressing into the surface again. Cover over with the cling film and leave it to rest for 20 mins.
After the dough has been left to rise, open up the cling film and cut it into two halves. Form each one into a ball and wrap tightly with cling film before storing in the freezer. On the day you wish to use the dough, remove it from the freezer that morning and place it in the fridge to defrost during the day.
Step 2 – Making Pizza with the Dough
When you are ready to make the pizza, pull the dough out of the fridge and allow it to gently come up to room temperature for 20 mins whilst your prepare everything. Place the oven on to 220C / Fan 200C, or if you have a pizza setting on your oven then use this. Lightly oil a baking sheet and set this aside.
If you are at all confident, you are more than welcome to try and stretch out the dough by hand. I prefer to roll it out nice and thin on a floured surface. I find each ball of dough will easily fit a half sheet pan or standard size baking sheet. Place the dough on to the prepared baking sheet and top with your pizza sauce, cheese and other toppings. Place into the hot oven and bake for 7-10 minutes. The crust should be nicely browned and the cheese melted.
Note – you can make your own pizza sauce very easily using a carton (500ml) of Tomato Passata. Pour this into a small saucepan and add 1 tsp of dried Oregano, a good pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of pepper. Gently bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until it reduces by half (this should take about 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and check the seasoning before using on your dough. This should make enough to use with two batches of the recipe above and if can be frozen or kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.